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Bay Area adds jobs in August, but clear signs of economic slowdown emerge

Bay Area adds jobs in August, but clear signs of economic slowdown emerge

The Bay Area gained jobs in August, but signs have emerged that the region’s economic engine has begun to sputter and isn’t creating employment as briskly as before.

The nine-county region added 3,000 jobs last month, powered mainly by sturdy employment gains in the East Bay that offset big job losses in the San Francisco-San Mateo region and smaller losses in the South Bay, the state Employment Development Department reported.

The East Bay added 3,500 jobs in August, but the San Francisco-San Mateo metro area chopped 1,200 jobs while the South Bay lost 500 jobs, according to the most recent EDD report. All the numbers were adjusted for seasonal volatility.

California added 23,100 jobs during August and the statewide unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.6% compared with the prior month, the EDD reported.

While employment can fluctuate month to month, an analysis of the pace of job gains over the most recent one-year period shows a definite shift towards a job slowdown — or even outright job losses down the road — both in the Bay Area and California.

Over the six-month period that stretched from September 2022 through February 2023, the Bay Area gained 59,200 jobs, which averaged out to a robust gain of 9,900 jobs a month.

In stark contrast, however, during the most recent six months, March 2023 through August 2023, the Bay Area added only 32,600 jobs or an average gain of 5,400 jobs a month, this news organization’s analysis of the EDD’s seasonally adjusted figures shows.

The slowdown is particularly pronounced in the tech-dominated regions of the Bay Area.

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Over the prior six months that ended in February 2023, the San Francisco-San Mateo region added 21,700 jobs, or about 3,600 jobs a month. But over the most recent six months from March through August, the San Francisco metro area gained only 6,300 jobs, or slightly more than 1,000 a month.

Similarly, the South Bay added 16,600 jobs during the six months ending in February 2023, or 2,800 a month. But during the March through August six-month stretch, the South Bay added only 6,400 jobs, or about 1,100 a month.

The East Bay is the consistent bright spot for the Bay Area lately. The Alameda County-Contra Costa County area added 13,300 jobs from September 2022 through February 2023, or about 2,200 jobs a month. The East Bay then picked up the pace with a gain of 16,200 jobs from March through August of this year, or 2,700 positions a month.

A big slowdown in job gains has also begun to materialize in California.

From September 2022 through February 2023, California posted an average gain of 28,900 jobs a month. But from March through August of this year, California’s job gains averaged 27,000 jobs a month.

California’s job performance, if anything has turned even more sluggish lately. Over the three most recent months, covering June, July and August, California’s economy managed to produce only an average gain of 14,000 jobs a month — half the pace of the prior periods.

The weaker performance for the Bay Area suggests that the region’s tech layoffs are affecting the nine-county area’s overall job market.